Emilia Clarke goes from Mother of Dragons to Mother of Madness with a comic book series starring a single mother superhero who gets her powers from her menstrual cycle. The Game of Thrones actress discussed her latest project, M.O.M.: Mother of Madness, and the comic renaissance that’s empowering women and bringing more diversity to fans at a virtual keynote presentation at New York Comic Con (NYCC).
Clarke worked with comic book writer Marguerite Bennett and artists Leila Leiz, Jo Ratcliffe, Jen Bartel, and Tula Lotay on the three-issue graphic novel series published by Image Comics. The first two issues launched over the summer and the final issue will hit stores on Oct. 27. Clarke describes the series as “Deadpool meets Fleabag,” channeling raw honesty and humor into a relatable, female protagonist. Maya is a scientist by day, an over-the-top superhero by night, and a badass single mom 24/7, activating her superpowers to take on human traffickers and toxic masculinity.
Clarke shared that her brother was always into comic books growing up, but that she could never find ones that appealed to her as a young girl. She became more interested in comics when women started showing up on the big screen in leading superhero roles, such as Captain Marvel and the recent Wonder Woman films. “I was in the car with my friends … and we were like, wouldn’t it be funny if there was a female superhero that you know, wore an outfit that she could pee in, and that was relatable — truly relatable,” Clarke said at the NYCC presentation. “Because there are so many women in my life who I perceive to have superpowers. The way that they are able to do all of the things that they do, it’s beyond human. So all of these ideas started mixing together.”
Clarke said she got inspiration for Maya’s superhero outfit from Missy Elliott’s ‘90s music videos and the Russian punk rock activist group Pussy Riot. She also wanted to include the mythological symbols for feminism and chemical compound symbols since the character is a scientist.
The story is set in the not-too-distant future to make it more realistic. “The joy of comics and the joy of fantasy is that it is life elevated. It’s life to its most extreme. And for our character to be at her most extreme, I wanted an environment to be filled with a kind of tension that feels real close right now for us,” Clarke said. “I couldn’t have a comic without suggestions of my political leanings right in there … If certain situations are left to run their course without any kind of prevention, this is where it would be.”
Although the comic is about a feminist superhero, the stories address the struggles men face as well. One of the male characters gets asked to have plastic surgery to have his tear ducts removed because “men don’t cry.” “Toxic masculinity is a very real thing and I wanted that to be in there as well because the capitalist structure that designs what people perceive to be beauty can be really detrimental to both men and women,” Clarke said.
She also wanted to strip away the taboo of the menstrual cycle, “so that as people grow up, there’s just more of an open conversation, there’s more understanding, and there’s less fanfare. It’s just something that they understand completely.”
At its core, the story of M.O.M.: Mother of Madness is about having an open mind and being kind to each other. “That goes for whatever you look like, whatever your gender is — cis or not — it’s having an empathy for humanity as a whole and for one another,” Clarke said. “I know it sounds so corny and so over-the-rainbow, but that’s what it all boils down to: if you care, if you’re kind to strangers, if you’re kind to your enemies, if you’re kind to people who piss you off as much as you are to the people you love, it’s just going to build more empathy around the world and that kind of energy is what we need.”
You can preorder M.O.M.: Mother of Madness on Amazon or look for it at your local comic shop on Oct. 27.